When it comes to customer engagement for utilities in Australia, Western Power are raising the bar – turning to new technology and web apps to improve overall service and responsiveness.

In my role, I work with many of the country’s leading utilities, and developing smarter public-facing service applications is a major priority for these providers.

That’s why I think the apps created by Western Power need to be seen by as many utility companies as possible.

The WA energy provider is responsible for building, maintaining and operating the electricity network throughout the south-west corner of the state.

In a bid to provide its customers with easy-to-access information, Western Power introduced a variety of apps that share real-time network updates and can collect incident details without members of the public needing to call.

For example, one app enables customers to report faulty streetlights in their local area – a massive efficiency gain for the utility.

With every streetlight over Western Power’s electricity network – which spans more than 255,000 square kilometres – plotted on a map, customers are now able to locate and select the asset they’re reporting on, and provide a description of the fault.

By migrating customers to a self-service channel, this has helped reduce call volume so the customer service centre can focus on emergency calls. And because each streetlight can be precisely pinpointed on a map, work crews are operating more effectively.

Another great app Western Power has developed provides network outage information, and is updated every five minutes to ensure customers always have an accurate view of their local grid at any given time.

The app highlights known outages – both planned and unplanned – maps an outline to identify which properties are affected, and provides an estimated resolution time.

Customers can also enter their address to check if an outage is impacting their neighbourhood as a way to quickly confirm or rule out a network fault if they’ve lost power at their home.

This improved data transparency has lowered incoming call volume for Western Power and allows service staff to focus on the most critical issues.

Both apps have been created using location-based analytics technology, and strengthened with authoritative data and basemaps.

What I think is most impressive though, is the fact the apps were developed without Western Power incurring any additional infrastructure costs. They simply leveraged the advanced capabilities of the ArcGIS platform to create smarter solutions for the public.

To better understand how ArcGIS technology can be used to keep your company and customers better informed, explore the two software demos featured on our electricity industry page.

This article is by Mark Billing, Chief Sales Officer of Esri Australia